At Guggenheim-Dia John Chamberlain Memorial, Friends Recall Sailing, Wrestling, Studio Visits

John Chamberlain. (Courtesy Robert McKeever/Gagosian Gallery)

“Finding out that he wanted his show in my building was very special information for me—it brings tears to my eyes,” Frank Gehry said in a video played in the Guggenheim’s basement theater last night. He was talking about John Chamberlain, whose retrospective is on view in the museum above. It will travel to Mr. Gehry’s Bilbao branch next year. The architect welled up as he spoke. “I knew he liked me and stuff, but that’s a big, mother compliment for me, so thank you, John.”

The memorial was organized by the Guggenheim and the Dia Art Foundation to pay tribute to Chamberlain, the hard-charging sculptor of shredded and contorted automobile metal who died in December at the age of 84. The crowd included the directors of the Guggenheim and Dia, Richard Armstrong and Philippe Vergne, Chamberlain’s last dealer, Larry Gagosian, as well as artist Frank Stella, dealer Tony Shafrazi, patron Christophe de Menil and members of his family. Read More


Playing the Museum: Dickie Landry Plays Solo Saxophone for John Chamberlain

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SOLO by Dickie Landry at the Guggenheim, March 26, 2012

On his 1977 album Fifteen Saxophones Dickie Landry uses tape delays and overdubs to pile saxes and flutes on top of one another. It sounds like a whole scrum of musicians is involved, but it’s played by a single man.

Performing in the center of the Guggenheim’s rotunda on Monday night, Mr. Landry was once again by himself, and though he didn’t quite conjure a whole gang of musicians with his tenor, there were moments when it seemed like two, maybe three, saxes were at work. His long, flowing scales bounced from the ceiling overhead back down to the floor as he blew, almost uninterrupted–except for a quick breath here and there–for about an hour. Read More


His and Hers: John Chamberlain and Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim

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John Chamberlain, C’ESTZESTY, 2011

Visitors to curator Susan Davidson’s exhibition of John Chamberlain’s abstract sculptures made from crushed car parts look like people vetting goods at an auto show. Hands on hips, they inspect the gleaming, chromium-plated, painted or stainless steel works that Chamberlain constructed over a period of 60 years, until his death in December at age 84. They peer around shiny fenders, and gaze down at the muscular masses of metal that line the Guggenheim’s rotunda.  

Meanwhile, in the annex gallery off the fourth level of the rotunda, visitors to Corey Keller’s exhibition of Francesca Woodman’s photographs are lost in the kind of contemplation called for by tiny photographic self-portraits. In one image, Woodman seems to cut herself under the right breast, and inky blood trickles down her torso; in another, she stages herself as a naked corpse bitten by a viper. Woodman killed herself in 1981, at age 22, and the specter of her imminent suicide looms; the dimly lit dual galleries of small, black and white photographs have a funereal feel. Read More


Morning Links: The Evil Yellow Slugs Edition

A detail from The Big Hawthorn, 2008, by David Hockney. Photograph: Richard Schmidt

Ian Jack wonders if it is a problem that David Hockney’s blossoms look like “evil yellow slugs.” [Guardian UK]

Georgina Adam on the ongoing controversy involving a Rauschenberg, a stuffed eagle and the IRS. [Financial Times]

David Shrigley has a new billboard coming to the High Line, at 10th Avenue and 18th Street, April 5—his deadpan brand of twee existential insecurity writ large, super large. [Paper Magazine] Read More


11 Things to Do in New York’s Art World Before Feb. 27

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Screening: Without Gorky at MoMA
In this 2011 documentary, Cosima Spender investigates the life of her grandfather, the mid-century abstract painter Arshile Gorky, whose work bridged Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, and whose life was marked by tragedies. Ms. Spender will discuss the film after the 79-minute screening. —Andrew Russeth
Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, 4 p.m. Read More